When: Tonight, 7:00 PST
Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix AZ
Watch: Locally: FSNAZ; Outside AZ: NBA League Pass (Free Trial)
After losing what should have been a nice comeback victory against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, the Phoenix Suns are now faced with either continuing their lackluster start against another inferior opponent tonight in the Detroit Pistons, or proving that they are better than their initial display of inconsistency and missed jump shots.
The Suns will be at home once more tonight before embarking on a three-game road trip against the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, and Charlotte Bobcats. So if they intend on gaining some momentum and establishing some rhythm to their offense, tonight is their best chance to do so.
The Detroit Pistons are coming off a 105-96 Wednesday night loss to James Harden and the Houston Rockets after being up 11 points in the 4th quarter. The Suns can expect the Pistons to be hungry for their first win just like they are, with both teams looking to prove they are better than they played in the first game.
Goran Dragic vs. Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey - Although both Stuckey and Knight are starters at the guard position, they can both run the offense and switch between roles depending on what look is more beneficial. It's difficult to predict which player will see the bulk of time matched up against Dragic, but either way Dragic should still have the upper hand.
Marcin Gortat vs. Greg Monroe: This should be the best match-up of the game from an outside perspective. Both Gortat and Monroe are productive, skilled, and effective centers who each have certain advantages over the other. Greg Monroe is better at using his body to get into position to score and secure rebounds, and his passing is incredible. Gortat is probably a tad more agile, and probably has a little more outside range. Both players have a nice mid-range game, good footwork, and can run the floor very well; but Monroe has already proven he can be the first option on offense when need be, something Gortat has yet to prove without Nash.
Luis Scola and Michael Beasley vs. Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell: Both forward positions is by and large the Suns biggest match-up advantage against Detroit. There's no reason the Suns shouldn't look to exploit these match-ups early and often. However, will the Suns get the 29 point 10 rebound version of Beasley that they saw in the preseason, or the 2-9 shooting defensive sieve they saw against the Warriors who was benched for PJ Tucker?
Suns Bench vs. Pistons Bench: While the Suns bench has been a bit of a concern thus far, the Pistons' bench is loaded with talented young players, some of whom many Pistons' fans believe should be starting. Andre Drummond, Jonas Jerebko, Kim English, Kyle Singler, and Will Bynum are likely to give the Suns' reserves all they can handle tonight. Will the Suns' bench be ready to step up to the challenge?
This is gut check time for the Suns. Regardless of the individual match-ups they face tonight, the Suns biggest obstacle is probably themselves. Can they regain the offensive flow they demonstrated in the preseason? Or, will they continue to make poor decisions and jack-up long range shots even when they aren't falling? Are they going to pull themselves together after a gut-wrenching loss and handle their business at home? Or, will they continue to under perform? All we have are questions right now...Hopefully we start getting the answers we're looking for tonight.
Michael Beasley is a talented basketball player. He can get his shot off in a lot of different ways and he has a healthy knack for finding the bottom of the net. Over his five-year career, however, he only gets to the line for an average of 3.1 free throw attempts per game.
Carmelo Anthony, a guy Beasley should be compared to in both body type and raw scoring ability, has averaged 7.8 free throw attempts per game in his career. Melo gets treated (and paid) like a superstar despite a well-deserved reputation for being a disinterested defender because he puts so much pressure on the other team on offense.
That seems to the mold Alvin Gentry and the Suns are seeking for the hybrid forward.
According to Paul Coro in the Arizona Republic, the coaching staff held a film session with Beasley to demonstrate how Anthony gets to the line. Michael explained his lesson:
Expectations are high for Phoenix Suns’ Michael Beasley
"That’s what I think about when I drive now," Beasley said. "Melo is quick but Melo doesn’t always beat his guy on the first step. He’ll drive and then he’ll hit you with the shoulder. You’ve got to foul him or it’s going to be a wide-open layup."
Beasley's set a goal for himself of 7 to 8 free throws per game which certainly would be a great help to his team which needs a great deal of help in finding easy points.
Michael reportedly accepted his benching in the opener against the Warriors in favor of the more active and defensively intense P.J. Tucker.
"I just have to be aggressive at both ends of the floor," Beasley said. "I feel I have the talent level and stamina and also the mental stability to play 30-plus minutes a game. You've just got to stay aggressive. You can't really flow in and out of games."
As Alvin Gentry told the media, that's what he's looking for from the newly signed free agent.
"He's got to be on the floor for us and he's got to be a star player for us," Gentry said of Beasley while also citing the phrase, "To whom much is given, much is expected" in regard to entrusting Beasley. "The expectations that we have for him are big."
So to recap: Better effort defensively. consistent focus, more aggressive driving to the rim and getting to the line. In other words, the book on Beasley from his five years in the NBA played out exactly to the letter in his first game with the Suns.
As long as everyone is saying the right things, we have no choice but to be patient. We'll know if Gentry's given up on him (like Rick Adelman eventually did in Minnesota) and we're a long ways from that point.
As they say in the Army, to make a man you have to first break him down so you can building him back the way you want. I assume we're early in that process for Drill Sergeant / Father Gentry.
I would guess the majority of you have had the misfortune of choking one of these down. Before I looked up these abominations to Halloween candy I didn't realize they were called peanut butter kisses. After all, the manufacturer is so ashamed of their creation that they wouldn't even put their name on the wrapper. These things are supposed to taste like peanut butter?! Peanut butter should file a lawsuit for character defamation. And where does the kiss come into play? The kiss of death? Kissing your appetite goodbye? How about telling the person giving these to trick-or-treaters to kiss your @ss?
The Suns were that person last night. They were just about to grab the chocolate variety bag full of funsize Reese's, M&M's and Kit Kat's, but at the last second, by virtue of some nefarious mental paroxysm, they decided to go with the @$ck#ng peanut butter kisses instead.
Filling an arena on Halloween is a tough task. I'm sure that's why the crowd was reported at 2,800 below capacity. Then again, everybody in the lower bowl may have decided to wear the same invisible man costume... The goblins and ghouls that were in attendance watched a
pretty damn ugly tumultuous game with a 25 point swing from when the Warriors led 46-29 in the second quarter to where the Suns went up 74-66 in the fourth. It looked like the wheels were coming off for Golden St., but it turned out to be just a sugar rush for the Suns, who faded down the stretch in an opening night loss.
New team. New players. Still, some of the similarities were downright spooky.
1. A lineup of Telfair, Brown, Beasley, Morris and O'Neal opened up the second quarter and the Warriors went on a 13-2 run. The lead ballooned to 17, at 46-29, before the Suns starters returned and cut lead to six at halftime. Similarities - bench getting murdered, losing the second quarter (-2).
2. The Suns took a 74-66 lead with 8:41 to play. Over the next 5:03 they surrendered a 15-4 run that saw the Warriors reclaim the lead 81-78. Similarities - bench sucking out loud, Gentry waiting too long to return the starters.
3. Luis Scola scored with 1:43 left to give the Suns an 84-83 lead. The Suns failed to execute the remainder of the game including the closing moments that were comically embarrassing for both teams, mirroring much from a game that was sloppy and disjointed. Similarities - poor execution down the stretch, no go-to scorer.
4. Shannon Brown still looks like Shannon Brown. The mad chucker was on display again last night, taking bad shots when the Suns couldn't afford it. In another disturbing trend, it appears that Michael Beasley may be a slightly more talented version of Shannon Brown. This may not change much, either, since Gentry is publicly saying those are good shots for Beasley that he usually makes when he should be privately waterboarding him after the game. Similarities - Brown is Brown, Beasley is also Brown.
5. Golden St. had 17 offensive rebounds, including seven in the final quarter. Three of those offensive rebounds resulted in seven points during the Warriors' 15-4 run that cost Phoenix the game. If the Suns don't give up those rebounds they probably win. Similarities - losing on the glass (-5), getting owned on the offensive boards (-6)
6. The Suns scored 85 points. 85. I guess "pushing the pace" doesn't explicitly correspond to scoring, but I was hoping that a triple digit point average was at least implied in the rhetoric. The fans that forewent trick-or-treating to attend the game didn't even get free tacos. The Suns failed to reach the 90 point mark 12 times last season (almost one in five games) so hopefully last night wasn't a precursor of a repeat performance. Similarities - struggling to score, struggling to run (11 fast break points)
7. Please feel free to add your own.
Friday night the Suns will attempt to exorcise these ghosts. One game does not a pattern make, even when it resembles a previous pattern. I'm looking forward to a more consistent effort and even more positives against the Pistons. Because just like those noxious candies straight from hell, the first game left me with a bad taste in my mouth.